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The Heavyweight Division – What Can We Expect In 2021?

This year may well become one of the biggest years in the heavyweight division for a long time. All of the belts are with us here in the UK, meaning that in the coming 12 months we could well see the biggest fight in British boxing history land.

Will the undisputed fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua happen this year? (Photo: Talksport)

Of course, we are talking about Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury. 2021 might well be the year where they finally meet, with all the world title belts on the line and a chance to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis, who reigned supreme over 20 years ago.

All roads are clear for this mammoth clash of two heavyweight titans to happen right now. There is no reason as to why the fight cannot happen, which is music to the ears of every single boxing fan in the UK.

With the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF belts seemingly tied up between the two champions, along with the Ring Magazine belt, which is currently in the possession of ‘The Gypsy King’, it is unlikely that we will see any new names crowned world champion in the coming year.

However, it is never as simple as that and often boxing politics can get in the way, with different sanctioning bodies calling mandatories and ordering defences whenever they like.

After defeating Kubrant Pulev, in what was his IBF mandatory defence, Anthony Joshua has his sights set on becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion, which has been his goal from the outset of his career. The only belt left for Joshua to capture is the WBC strap, which is currently in the hands of Fury. Likewise, Fury would just have to defeat his British rival to claim the other three belts, and become undisputed. This is why this fight simply has to happen.

Putting the belts aside for a second, Joshua v Fury could quite well be the biggest fight in the history of British boxing. It could be up there with Eubank v Benn and Lewis v Bruno, and in many people’s eyes could be bigger than them both.

An enormous spectacle for UK fight fans, having the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world be contested between two of their own.

In terms of the wider landscape of the heavyweight division, 2021 could be a very interesting year indeed.

The main talking point at the minute is the WBA situation with Joshua, who has been called to fight Oleksandr Usyk in a mandatory defence. However, making the Fury fight is the priority, so we could potentially see the WBA strap relinquished from Joshua, which would of course take away from the undisputed fight between him and Fury, but could also give other fringe contenders a chance at becoming world champion.

Oleksandr Usyk has his sights set on capturing a world title in the coming year. (Photo: The Independent)

Usyk will fight for the WBO world title next. Whether that be against Joshua or not, he is the mandatory challenger. If the belt is given up by ‘AJ’, we could well see a fellow Brit in Joe Joyce fight Usyk for the vacant belt.

A fight between Joyce and Usyk is another really interesting one, if it were to happen. The pair have history in the amateurs, where Usyk beat Joyce in the World Series of Boxing, so a potential rematch in the professional ranks for a world title is most certainly a mouth-watering proposition for fight fans.

In terms of fringe contenders, there are several men who will be hoping for a shot at either Joshua or Fury, if the pair for some reason don’t meet and carry on defending against other contenders.

As already mentioned, Usyk and Joyce both fancy a shot, and could well face each other. Deontay Wilder is still hanging about, hoping to get the trilogy fight with Fury. People like Andy Ruiz, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin and Michael Hunter are also chomping at the bit for their shot at world honours.

Not to mention the likes of Dillian Whyte, Hughie Fury and Derek Chisora, who themselves might be hopeful of fighting for a world title in the not so distant future. Whyte is scheduled to rematch Povetkin within the coming months, so should he come through that, he is surely in line for a shot. Fury is fresh off the back of an impressive win over Mariusz Wach, and he himself will be wanting to throw his name into the mix of potential Brit’s fighting for a world title in the coming year.

Similarly Chisora, who lost last time out to Usyk, but did better than a lot of people thought he would, gave the Ukrainian trouble early on. He may well be hopeful of one last run at the world title, and if matched correctly, could well see himself in line in the not so distant future.

Joe Joyce and Dillian Whyte are the two British names who aren’t too far away from a world title shot, and if both men keep winning, it will be difficult to deny them their shot at capturing one of the illustrious world title belts.

Not to mention Luis Ortiz and Martin Bakole, who don’t seem to be too far away from the top contenders now either.

Away from world level, there are several prospects who will be hopeful of a successful 2021, building their profile and making their move up the heavyweight rankings.

One man who will be looking to get back on track in 2021 is Daniel Dubois. After suffering the first loss of his career at the hands of Joe Joyce, Dubois is looking to rebuild and get back to winning ways in the coming year. At just 23-years-old, the powerful Brit still has many years in the game, and still has a really bright future ahead of him.

Filip Hrgovic is potentially the best kept secret the heavyweight division has got. The Croatian superstar has been waiting in the wings for at least a year now, and will be looking to explode onto the heavyweight scene, getting himself up to world title contention as soon as possible.

Another prospect who hasn’t yet broken onto the heavyweight scene is Tony Yoka. The 2016 Olympic gold medallist has had a quiet beginning to his professional career, and will be hoping that 2021 is the year where he really pushes on and gets the fans talking about him and how much of a threat he is to the heavyweight division.

Alen Babic has quickly become one of the heavyweight divisions hottest prospects. (Photo: Sky Sports)

Other names like Alen Babic, Efe Ajagba and David Adeleye are only really at the start of their heavyweight journeys. All three men have looked impressive thus far, showing devastating knockout power, which can only stand them in good stead as they move up the heavyweight rankings. For these men, there is no rush and the world is their oyster.

2021 really could be a magnificent year for heavyweight boxing, with the potential undisputed champion ruling the roost come the end of the year. We could see a new world champion, plenty of upsets and of course, the one thing that is guaranteed in the heavyweight division, we will see knockouts.

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